Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh weighs in on the pending referendum in Massachusetts on gay marriage and declares that Bay Staters don't have the right to decide on this issue:
For all the demands to "let the people vote," there is no constitutional obligation to send this to the ballot.Just to recap: a couple years back the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled by judicial fiat that the right to same-sex marriage suddenly materialized in the state Constitution. This was followed by a petition for a state referendum, signed by a record number of Massachusetts citizens. The state legislature refused to vote on the referendum last year but now it appears likely, with heavy prodding from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, that the quaint notion that citizens should be allowed to decide their own laws will move forward.
I say that as someone who has written both that Tom Reilly, then attorney general, was correct in certifying the proposed amendment, thereby letting it move forward, and that the Legislature would be wrong to resort to parliamentary tactics to kill it rather than giving it an up-or-down vote.
The process should be protected. But that said, the process is the process -- and that's why it's nonsense to argue that legislators somehow have an obligation to let the people decide.
This is par for the course in the Commonwealth where democracy is a sacred right unless it's not. Make no mistake: if there was popular support for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Scot Lehigh would be calling for a vote to validate and codify this new right. But since popular support is decidedly against gay marriage, well, we couldn't possibly let the people decide. That would be wrong.